India’s population is estimated to be around one billion. India has one of the highest population growth rates in the world. In the last ten years its population has increased by 181 million. If this growth rate continues it could become the world’s most populated country by 2020.
However, India’s population growth rate is slowing. This is particularly the case in the southern state of Kerala. In Kerala there have been a number of initiatives to reduce population growth:
1. Women are being educated
Around half of all Indian women cannot read or write (illiterate). However, in Kerala 85% of women are literate. Better educated women are more likely to keep their children healthy. Therefore infant mortality has dropped. This has led to a drop in birth rates. If children are surviving families no longer have to have a couple of extra children to replace those that die.
2. Contraception is more widely available
3. The status of women has improved significantly
Women are no longer seen as a burden – they are regarded as an asset. Traditionally in India when a woman gets married the family have to pay money to the bridegroom’s family. This is called a dowry. However, in Kerala it is the bridegroom’s family who pay a dowry to the brides family.